"We, the AIDS people. . .": how antiretroviral therapy enables Zimbabweans living with HIV/AIDS to cope with stigma

Am J Public Health. 2011 Jun;101(6):1004-10. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2010.202838. Epub 2010 Dec 16.


We studied the impact of antiretroviral treatment availability on HIV/AIDS stigma through interviews with 118 antiretroviral treatment users, HIV/AIDS caregivers, and nurses in Zimbabwe. Treatment enables positive social and economic participation through which users can begin to reconstruct their shattered sense of social value. However, stigma remains strong, and antiretroviral treatment users remain mired in conflictual symbolic relationships between the HIV/AIDS people and the untested. To date, the restoration of users' own sense of self-worth through treatment has not reduced fear and sexual embarrassment in framing community responses to people living with HIV/AIDS. Much remains to be learned about the complex interaction of economic and psychosocial dimensions of poverty, treatment availability, and conservative sexual moralities in driving HIV/AIDS stigma in specific settings.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Fear
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy*
  • HIV Infections / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Qualitative Research
  • Self Concept
  • Social Perception
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Stereotyping*
  • Zimbabwe


  • Antiviral Agents